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IndiGo’s Pratt & Whitney woes resurface

Aug 04, 2023Aug 04, 2023

In another wave of engine trouble in India, IndiGo, the country’s largest airline, will need to send some of its Airbus A320neo family aircraft using Pratt and Whitney engines for inspection as the US engine maker has suggested accelerated inspection of 600 aircraft worldwide.

“We are in receipt of the information from the OEM Pratt and Whitney (P&W) regarding the outcome of the latest inspection of their engine. We are working closely with P&W to assess and minimize any potential impact to our fleet," a spokesperson for IndiGo said.

In India, IndiGo and Go First are the users of PW1100-run A320neo family aircraft, and industry experts expect minimal impact on domestic carriers. The latest issue revolves around the metal used in manufacturing the parts of a PW-1100G engine. In 2019, the Indian civil aviation regulator had ordered IndiGo and Go First to modify some A320neo aircraft fitted with P&W engines due to issues related to in-flight shutdowns.

Out of IndiGo’s fleet of 312 aircraft, 47 are currently grounded due to maintenance work, and shortage of spare engines and parts. IndiGo signed a definitive pact in 2012 with P&W for PurePower PW1100G-JM engines for 150 A320neo family aircraft. The airline had then switched to another US engine maker CFM for LEAP-1A engine for a total of 590 IndiGo A320neo family aircraft.

P&W estimates that the PW1100 engine fleet, which powers the A320neo, will experience the most significant impact due to production volumes during this period.

Based on the current assessment, the company anticipates by mid-September that around 200 PW1100 engines will be removed for enhanced inspection. Beyond the initial 200 engines, the company also anticipates that around 1,000 additional PW1100 engines will need to be removed from the operating fleet of airlines for this inspection within the next 9 to 12 months, thus impacting 600 aircraft globally.

“...but the exact number of engines and the timing of those removals is not yet finalized," according to P&W.

The company had previously determined that a rare condition in powdered metal used to manufacture certain engine parts may reduce the life of those parts. As a result, Pratt instituted enhanced inspections to be performed at scheduled shop visits.

“Based on very recent learnings from these inspections, Pratt has now determined that the timing of these shop visits needs to be accelerated. While partner metal parts have been widely used throughout Pratt’s product lines for decades, Pratt has bounded the potentially impacted material," Christopher Calio, president and chief operating officer of P&W’s parent company, Raytheon Technologies Corp. said.

As some of the engines that must be removed for inspection in 2023 and 2024 are already forecast for a regular shop visit during this period, the engine maker said the incremental impact of the fleet is still under evaluation.

The company has reiterated that the current production of powdered metal parts is not impacted, and it will continue to deliver both new engines and new spare parts across all product lines.

“Pratt is also analyzing any potential impact to other parts of its fleet, but the current expectation is that they will be less impacted based upon existing inspections, utilization profiles and maintenance intervals," Calio said.

The company is now expected to publish a service bulletin describing the inspections, then the US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration will likely follow up with a narrow-worthiness directive.

“This is obviously a difficult situation for our customers, especially given the strong demand for travel. We’re truly sorry for the impact of this and we will do all we can to support our customers," Calio added.